Your group protests violence in Israel and Palestine and just marked a seventh anniversary. How many show up each week?
Our goal is always to break two digits—get over 10—and most of the time we do. The group includes Jews, Muslims, and Christians and members of other spiritual traditions, many with family members living in the Middle East. There are several Palestinian Christian women, like Mary Harb, Renee Jubran, and Mary’s sister Zawa, who come always. We meet at the Duncan federal building every Tuesday at noon and stand in silent vigil until 12:45 p.m. If you can get there, you’re welcomed with open arms.
It’s a symbol of mourning. Women In Black was started in 1988 by Israeli women protesting their government’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. They stood in solidarity at a border check. Palestinian women at the time started standing with them in support, then it spread throughout the world.
What’s been the reaction here?
During the time we spend in silence, someone is always designated to hand out information, like a map of the Palestinian loss of land from 1946-2009. More often than not, people will take it. People are warm, always waving, big smiles. There are always people who shake their head no, always people who are strongly against, but there has never been an angry confrontation.
Why the John J. Duncan building?
We picked it because it’s a federal building and we are strongly asking for some federal action, federal support. We are not saying we are totally pro-Palestine and anti-Israel. We have Jewish people standing every week. We want peace with justice for everybody.
Do you ever get tired of protesting week after week?
Absolutely not. I feel like my roots just grow deeper and stronger. This is the right thing to do.
For more information about Knoxville Women in Black: Brenda Bell at msbsbell(at)yahoo(dot)com